You may recall in our recent discussions of redevelopment that one element that must be addressed is the disposition of assets owned by the former redevelopment agency.
These assets included housing-related assets such as real estate, as well as affordability covenants and agreements that are considered property or assets.
As permitted by state legislation, the city elected to transfer former redevelopment agency assets related to housing to the Fairfield Housing Authority as the designated “housing successor agency” in 2013. In accepting these assets, the housing authority also accepted significant new responsibilities related to asset management.
State legislation in 2013 addressed the operation of housing successor agencies such as the Fairfield Housing Authority. The legislation established goals and significant new reporting requirements for successor agencies. The legislation also clarified the mechanisms for funding agencies’ operations through revenues derived from the real estate portfolios.
Finally, the legislation also established a five-year time limit for housing successor agencies to either develop or dispose of the properties transferred to them through the redevelopment agency dissolution process. This clock began ticking for the Fairfield Housing Authority on April 2, 2013.
The City Council last Tuesday adopted a plan for managing the housing authority’s property assets: the Real Property Asset Management and Disposal Plan for Housing Authority Owned Properties.
This plan has been prepared to assist Fairfield in ensuring assets are used to satisfy local goals and state legislation. The plan includes an inventory of real property assets, the estimated market value of each property, a recommended marketing method and a timetable for disposition based on needs and goals.
This inventory identifies 17 sites totaling more than 95 acres. Key properties include Senior Manor on Jefferson Street, the former PACE neighborhood northeast of Solano Town Center mall, a site on Santa Monica Street, several small infill housing lots in downtown Fairfield, and a long narrow parcel abutting Highway 12 west of Pennsylvania Avenue. Some of these sites have affordable housing requirements in place and will be retained by the housing authority.
The plan concludes that the housing authority is not in a position to develop, through new construction, affordable housing on its own. This is not a new conclusion; the city of Fairfield and its redevelopment agency have long focused on working with private partners and preserving the existing stock of affordable single-family housing and apartments in the city through housing rehabilitation.
Because the housing authority can better meet its obligation to preserve, improve and increase affordable housing if it liquidates its real property assets and deposits the proceeds in a housing fund for ongoing first-time homebuyer and residential rehabilitation programs, the plan recommends the housing authority sell key sites with strong market value.
The plan recommends several methods to market the properties, such as sealed bids, a request for proposals/qualifications process, direct negotiations with a developer through a letter of interest process, the conventional real estate market, and the sale of suitable properties with entitlements already obtained by the city and in place. To assist in these sales, the city can assist with existing development fee credits. The plan focuses on marketing seven key sites:
The plan recommends PACE and Ray Venning as “short-term” high-priority sales that can be completed within 24 months. Santa Monica Street and Fairfield/Tabor are “medium-term” sites, with the downtown sites having medium and long-term potential. Disposition of the downtown sites will await completion of the Downtown Specific Plan that will address community visions and goals for downtown. The Highway 12 site has significant constraints, including noise and environmental issues, which may make sale a longer-term goal.
Over the next three years, city staff may work with the local real estate community, developers and other interested parties able to assist in implementing the recommendations in the plan. This will help the city and the housing authority meet its obligations to improve and preserve affordable housing in the community and could also lead to attractive new developments on currently vacant sites in the heart of the community.
The full plan is available from Bryan Briggs at [email protected] or can be viewed on the city website at www.fairfield.ca.gov.
Economic Notes is an update from Fairfield City Hall written by Brian Miller and Karl Dumas of the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. Reach them at 428-7461 or email at [email protected] or [email protected]